Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's Christmas Eve Eve!

As my (second) favorite New Yorker likes to say: It's Christmas Eve Eve! So here's a little Yuletide cheer from me to you. Hope your holidays are merry and bright!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

(Christmas) tree hugger

Last week, just after Thanksgiving, I was having a crisis of sorts. I'm not going home to my parent's house for Christmas until late on Christmas Eve. So unless I have my own Christmas tree, there's going to be very little time for Christmas cheer in my life this year. But getting my own Christmas tree presents a dilemma in and of itself. Growing up, we always had fresh trees -- fresh as in we went out to the woods on our land and tromped around until we found the perfect tree, chopped it down and trudged back home, tree in tow. Obviously it would be a smidge difficult for me to find some landowner in the District who wouldn't mind my trespassing on his property looking for the perfect cedar tree –- much less my procuring the saw to sever said tree. And I'm just not mentally prepared to pay for a tree that someone else got to go tromp about in the woods to chop down (OK, I realize the trees at your average tree stand are probably not natural growths that some hunter stumbled upon during his walk through the wilderness, but instead products of massive tree-farming operations –- just another reason not to buy a fresh tree). But I'm also really not into fake trees. Ugh. Plastic. Consumerism. Ugly. A dilemma, you see.

So after much debating and consultation with friends and family, I decided to divert from the mainstream and go with a potted Christmas tree. This way, even though I'd have to buy it, I could keep it afterward –- or plant it in a certain West Virginian's new backyard. So I tromped the two blocks to the hardware store, carefully scrutinized the three potential potted Christmas trees and settled on a lovely, slightly wonky Norfolk pine. Even my arms were spared their typical Christmas scarring (have you ever tried to carry a cedar tree while trudging through the woods?) because my special neighborly friend, Daniel, carried it all the way back for me.

My sparse collection of ornaments (that I used to hang on kitchen cabinet knobs) covered the tree perfectly. Add a few lights, and voila! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Word on the street is that even a certain Long Island mom/secret hippie is a fan of my socially responsible decor.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving to everyone Stateside. It's been a good holiday here in Mississippi, where I'm eating my turkey. My sister asked us all what we were thankful for, primarily so she could gloat and say she's thankful for Nick Saban (she's an Alabama fan; the rest of us root for Ole Miss). But her question got me thinking. I'm obviously thankful for all the *important* things -- life, free country, family, friends, health, etc. -- but I'm also thankful for so many little things as well. Little things that I appreciate on a daily basis but rarely stop to think about, like sunny days, live music, and Converse. But instead of rambling on with hackneyed tryptophan-induced musings, I will leave you with just one superficial thing I'm thankful for: pecan beer (and a brother willing to import it for me from Louisiana). Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Guest blogging

I've got a guest post up at my good friend Amanda's humorous public transportation-stories blog. Check it out.

Friday, November 14, 2008

First you start with a roux

I'm big on second chances. I gave DC a second chance and fell in love with it. I've given countless people second chances. So I figured I should probably give delicata a second chance too. It was a wise decision.

All week long, I've been salivating over this recipe, drawn primarily to the cashew cream. I considered using a different squash like a butternut, but after hearing a friend's horror story of trying to peel those bad boys, I decided to stick with the delicata. Being the overachieving perfectionist that I am, I decided to forego store-bought broth and make my own. And because I'm scared of dead chickens, veggie broth became the de facto winner. I threw in all the typical broth ingredients: carrots, celery, onions, garlic, peppercorns, oil, salt, etc. But I wanted to add some additional flavors, so I chopped up a pepper and -- on a whim -- plucked a few leaves off the ornamental cabbage I've been trying to keep alive in my living room. (I checked first -- it's edible.)

After an hour-ish of broth-making, my stomach told me it was time to get the show on the road, so I strained my veggies and rigged up a sweet apparatus (potholders covered with plastic bags) to squeeze out the additional juice. My hands are only slightly worse for the wear. My dinner guest decided the shenanigans needed to be documented -- but I think she just wanted to play with my new toy.

Finally the broth was ready. The delicata had been roasting all the while, and it was time to get down to business. The cashew cream was really interesting. My guest and I were completely intrigued by the process. And it added an excellent flavor, texture and pallor to the otherwise disgusting-looking soup.

My drizzling skills leave something to be desired, but I managed to make one of the bowls look halfway decent, and the soup was delish!

So I didn't actually start with a roux -- there was no flour involved -- but I figured it was an appropriate enough title. Plus, I've had Louisiana on the brain recently. I blame it on this muggy, dreary weather.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Where's my banjo player?

Last night I needed to make cookies for several reasons -- the primary one being that I wanted to eat some. And it was my first free evening at home in about two weeks, so naturally I needed something to do to fill my time. I couldn't just sit around and watch TV and knit like a normal person. Not me. So I decided to make some snickerdoodles. And not just any snickerdoodles; they had to be Ms. Jennifer's special snickerdoodles.

Growing up, my brother, sister and I had a pretty awesome lineup of regular babysitters. My hometown is a college town, and that school was my parents' alma mater, so they frequently attended football and basketball games, and we kids got to hang out with our awesome babysitters.

First, there was Ms. Frazier. She made these amazing mini-pancake things. Plus, she lived in an old house, which was cool. Then there was Miss Genia, who quite possibly -- along with my grandmother -- inspired my love of crafting. Every Saturday while my parents were tailgating and watching football, Miss Genia helped us undertake dozens of messy crafty endeavors -- I think much to my mother's chagrin because we never cleaned up. There was also Miss Kathryn, whose artwork hangs in my kitchen to this day. But the babysitter of note in this post was Ms. Jennifer because she introduced us to snickerdoodles. (I should probably also note that looking back on it, she was just a generally cool person: gymnastics coach, Spanish teacher, granddaughter of a governor, and I'm pretty sure she also dated the mandolin/banjo player in a local band for a while, which totally ups her street cred in grown-up Katie's book.)

But that's all a very long aside to the true purpose of this post: the cookies.

Making these cookies is fun because in doing so, I get to use two of my favorite kitchen tools:

1. my sifter. I love sifting. I could literally sift all day. I love the machine. I love the fluffy piles of white powder (OK, that's going to put me in some interesting google searches). Seriously, I love it. I almost had a nervous breakdown a few years ago when I couldn't find a sifter anywhere. I searched and searched and finally found one at a grocery store. Go figure.

2. my Pampered Chef mini whisk thingie. This tool is awesome. My mom gave it to me, touting dozens of perks. And she was right. It's great. She also told me to never lose it and to never let anyone steal it from me. So far I've succeeded -- don't get any fresh ideas, Cole. I use it in basically everything that requires mixing. It also works well for stirring soup.

Unfortunately for all of you, my photo tutorial will have to suffice. My mom just told me it's a secret recipe!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Better late than never

As mentioned earlier, there was a third hipster headband made for the big birthday fete of 2008. Sorry it took me eons to catch my favorite organic farming, veg-oil-converting West Virginian wearing hers. For "The Richele," I chose an earthy motif to match her hippie-ish nature. The butterfly adds a girlish touch so she can still feel like a lady even if she's wearing a dirty jumpsuit and is underneath the hood of a giant diesel truck. Purple is her favorite color, so naturellement it played a role.

You may recall I also promised to make a more age-appropriate hipster headband. So for "The Porkchop," I went with princess styling because what 2-year-old doesn't want to be a princess? There's also sequined bling because Layla loves flashy things as I discovered when I gave her some of my Mardi Gras beads back in the spring. (It sounds a lot fishier than it is -- don't worry, I didn't make the poor 2-year-old flash for her beads. For that matter, I didn't flash for the beads!) Perhaps Richele will get some pictures of Princess Porkchop this weekend that I can share next week. Happy Thursday and almost-end to the longest week ever.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dressed to pin

In another lifetime, sorority girl Katie used to love "dressing to pin" (i.e., dressing up so I could wear my sorority badge and not disrespect my letters). And while sorority girl Katie remains a distant memory for the most part, I still get a little thrill when I know I'm dressed to pin. This quirk is more than likely responsible for my current obsession with brooches. Here's a sneak peak at my "new" peacock one I got at a vintage store not long ago. It's supposedly 1920s-era, but who knows if that's accurate. Regardless, I like it. (And might I add it's surprisingly difficult to take a picture of one's own chest.)

Dixieland delight

Sorry I'm such a blogging tease. I was quite the active blogger last week, and then nothing. Whatever did you do with yourselves? I apologize. But I was MIA for good reason: My little sister turned 21, so I went down to Alabama for a visit. Coincidentally, this past weekend was also her school's Homecoming, and she was in charge of the parade (wow!), so I thought I'd share a few photos here. Don't worry, crafty endeavors will return soon. I've actually been fairly productive recently despite all the election brouhaha and lots of exciting copy editing.

It took a lot of work -- and sweet-talking -- to get the parade going, but everything eventually fell into place, the judges took their seats and the show began.

Then it was time for football (No.-1-team-in-the-nation football, if I might add)...

We sat in the student section, which made me feel old...

But we were next to the Queen, which was cool.

Of course, there were typical birthday shenanigans as well.

Looks like she liked her gifts.

All in all, a good weekend. Happiness.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

'Je vois la vie en rose'

My life yesterday was a lovely mix of Parisienne chic and Stars Hollow charm. I was making dinner for a friend and decided we needed some bread to go with our soup and squash. I planned to go to the grocery store after work until I remembered -- with great delight -- that my neighborhood is home to a bakery. So I popped in and picked up a fresh baguette and strolled toward home, reveling in all my Francophile glory. (This was compounded by the fact that I was wearing my Paris-girl uniform: black dress, black boots, fancy tights and short black coat.)

I forgot to switch the lens back to autofocus, so this photo is totally wonky, but I kind of like the awkward artsiness of it.

Dinner consisted of much-hyped delicata and artichoke soup. Both were excellent. I primarily followed Jess's preparation for the delicata: chopped it in half, spread on some olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and baked for an hour at 350.

The chopping was much easier said than done. Perhaps if I'd had a bigger knife similar to this one (hint hint, Mama, Christmas is only two months away -- though I'm not sure how I'd check that thing through security in Memphis), then my life would have been easier. But I didn't, so that's why there are awkward cut marks on the squash.

I *generally* followed Blair's recipe for the artichoke soup. And by generally followed, I mean I basically used the same ingredients. I didn't really keep track of how much of anything I used. And I eyeballed the majority of the spices, but in essence, I used her recipe. With the addition of garlic. Everything's better with garlic.

Dinner was delish. The soup was excellent. Spicy. Warm. Yummy. The delicata was OK. For the texture, my pick would be spaghetti squash. But delicata definitely beats out acorn squash in my book.

After my jaunt to the bakery earlier, I had nipped into the craft store near my apartment (my street is just like Stars Hollow -- there's even an animal-themed store à la Le Chat Club) for supplies for our after-dinner pants-hemming party. Seriously, it was a party. There were orange corduroy hemline headbands. And dancing. I'm embarrassed to say there was even some Abba.

Does it get any more Lorelei Gilmore than that?

Someone should probably check to see that I'm still alive in the morning because I have a feeling she's going to murder me in my sleep for posting these photos. Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


So I’ve been quite the busy blogger bee recently. I’m not sure what it is; maybe fall inspires me. Anyhow, I mentioned in my Gimpy post that I had some before-and-after photos to show off my photo-editing skills. Well, I lied. I actually only have the afters. Flickr won’t let me upload any more pictures this month without paying money -- and let’s be honest; I don’t need to spend money right now to put photos on flickr. We are on the verge of recession after all. But I thought I’d share the after images anyway. They are quite lovely, if I say so myself. They were taken with my old camera. So I guess I jumped the gun in blogging about my new toy yesterday. I promise more shots from the D90 are coming soon -- perhaps as soon as tomorrow.

My sister came up to visit earlier this month, and we did a few touristy things, including a stroll along the Potomac and a visit to the Jefferson Memorial.

Apparently it’s not a good idea to scuba dive in the Potomac. Who knew?

Some tourists at Jefferson.

Views of the monuments from the East Potomac Park bridge.

Last weekend, a couple of friends and I went for a romantic drive to Middleburg, Va., for some small-town charm, shopping and to wish we were rich and owned horse farms in the country.

Richele and Amanda amuse themselves while I take pictures.